Service clubs

Lions Club sets up at Dalhousie University to recruit younger members

Average age of Lions members in Nova Scotia is 64

Lions Club members at weekly meeting
Lions Club members at a weekly meeting.   kaitlynn burns

The Nova Scotia Lions Club is expanding to Dalhousie University to help offset the club’s aging membership.

The Lions Club is an international service organization that was founded in 1917. Local clubs in Nova Scotia work to better their own communities through fundraising and support.

The Dalhousie Lions Club was started in October and currently has 10 members.  

“Other Lions Clubs with older members have really struggled with reaching out to young people and trying to get young people involved and interested in volunteering,” says Jeanetta McGinley, president of the Dalhousie club. “That’s why Lions Club has gotten involved on campus.”

McGinley is a fourth-year student at Dalhousie and has been a member of Milford and District Lions Club for five years. She joined because her parents were members and says because of the club’s large size, it allowed for more opportunities. Last year they asked her to organize a club at Dalhousie.

 McGinley says there’s a perception that exists among young people that Lions Clubs are for older generations.

“I’m trying to alleviate this perception by introducing social media and flexibility to the clubs,” she says. “It’s about trying to text people, instead of calling them and willing to be flexible in scheduling because something that Millennials are good at is being flexible.”

Rhonda Trickett, the Lions Club’s first vice district governor for Nova Scotia, says declining membership is an issue across the province.

“Our members are getting older and we’re not getting new younger members in,” says Trickett.

She says the average age for members in clubs across Nova Scotia is 62, but can be as high as 72 at some clubs. The Lions Club also sees between 35 and 38 elder members die each year.

“If we start at the university level, we feel it will help increase our membership to a point where we can actually be sustainable for the next 100 years,” says Trickett.

Trickett says Lions Clubs across Nova Scotia can have anywhere from 10 to 70 members, but the clubs with very few members find it difficult to serve their community.

The Dalhousie Lions Club is working on its first community project to try and generate more student interest. Members will be hosting a clothing drive to collect winter essentials for Phoenix House in Halifax.

In her role with the Lions, McGinley is helping to start clubs at universities around the province. She’s working with Saint Mary’s University to help start up at a club there.

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